Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 23, 2006

Congress examines the DHS-NSA nexus

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Christian Beckner on May 23, 2006

Jeff Stein at CQ reports on the DHS angle of the recent revelations about domestic NSA activities, and notes that DHS intelligence chief Charlie Allen will be discussing DHS’s interface with the NSA in a closed meeting on Tuesday and an open hearing on Wednesday. From the story:

When the National Security Agency assigned Bill Semenick to be its liaison to the Homeland Security Department three years ago, he found he didn’t have a parking space, a desk or a secure computer link back to his Ft. Meade, Md., headquarters.

But about 18 months ago Semenick finally got a direct, secure link to NSA’s computers from DHS’ Nebraska Ave. complex, along with liaison officers from the two other Pentagon outfits that use satellites to keep track of the conversations and movements of people.

Now a congressional panel wants to know what kind of intelligence the NSA has been providing to the Homeland Security Department, and what it’s been doing with it…

Allen, who arrived at DHS last September after four decades at the CIA, has few comfortable options when he’s questioned by subcommittee members.

If he’s been giving state and local police intelligence reports that he knows came from the NSA’s warrantless wiretap programs, he may wish he was back at the CIA, which specializes in stealing information.

If he doesn’t know where the NSA intelligence originated, he won’t look very careful.

If he tells panel members that he didn’t get any intelligence from the NSA’s wiretapping data, they may say, “What are you, chopped liver?”

This should be an interesting hearing…I’ll post a follow-up after I track down and review his testimony and the hearing transcript.

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